U.S. to Boost Engagement with ASEAN on Science and Health

Man and woman standing. (Mission Image)Nay Pyi Taw, Burma.  U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden returned this week after leading a five-person U.S. delegation to Nay Pyi Taw for a forum with the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST).  The United States is partnering with ASEAN COST to explore joint research opportunities with ASEAN members on science, technology and innovation.

“Scientific and technological innovation will be crucial to addressing the 21st century challenges that recognize no national borders, including emerging diseases, environmental degradation, and natural disasters,” said Ambassador Carden.  “Smart innovation policies that encourage cooperation by government, academia, and the private sector will help ASEAN nations harness the intellectual and creative energies of their populations and support ASEAN’s integration and connectivity goals.”

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is noted in the current five year “Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership” as an area for improved collaboration in the coming years.  At the last ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Meeting in Bali in November 2011, President Obama and ASEAN leaders affirmed the importance of science and innovation as key to sustained economic development, and called for more U.S. engagement with ASEAN COST. The meeting in Nay Pyi Taw focused specifically on exploring cooperation in health.  Dr. Roger I. Glass, Associate Director for Global Health Research at the National Institutes of Health, emphasized to meeting participants the role played by NIH in supporting biomedical research in the United States and through international collaborations. The United States and ASEAN delegations then explored possibilities for joint research in the health sciences.

“We were pleased to co-chair this meeting between ASEAN COST and the United States delegation,” said Dr. Le Dinh Tien, Vice Minister for the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam and Chairman of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology. “ASEAN recognizes the continued leadership of the United States in science and technology innovation, and we hope more ASEAN-U.S. engagement in this area can help advance the development and support the well-being of the peoples of ASEAN.”

The United States and ASEAN COST delegates exchanged views on concepts for possible future joint programs including a workshop on science and disaster monitoring and response, and a workshop on influenza and respiratory viruses.  The two sides looked forward to reconvening on the sidelines of the next COST meetings later this year.